Susan Riese and Statesman Spaniels
Statesman Welsh Springer Spaniels began in the mid 1970's when Susan Riese acquired her first Welsh Springer Spaniel. Susan's main goal as a breeder is producing healthy and happy family companions. Statesman is known for being one of the most open kennels for sharing health information, and Susan is proud of this reputation. Health and temperament are the main priorities in any good breeding program.
Susan shares all known health information on Statesman dogs and puppies and feels that openly sharing health information (found on the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals website, www.ofa.org) is the best way to reduce the occurrence of health problems in the breed. Susan is an American Kennel Club Breeder of Merit, member of the Welsh Springer Spaniel Club of America, and an American Kennel Club judge.
Philosophy of Breeding
The goal of Statesman has always been to breed good Welsh springers. Susan believes the word "good" means structural soundness, a sound temperament and overall health (including checking hips, elbows, thyroid and eyes per Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) requirements). It has become obvious over the years that suffering can be avoided by making good breeding decisions based on facts.
Success with Statesman Welsh Springers has allowed Susan to travel world-wide to visit other breeders and as a judge (she is approved by the American Kennel Club to judge sixteen sporting breeds and junior showmanship). These travels have allowed her to spend time with other Welsh springer breeders and their dogs.
Sometimes during travels she comes across a dog that she likes so much that she wants to incorporate the qualities of that dog into her breeding program. The desire to incorporate that dog’s desirable traits into the Statesman breeding program justifies the importation of a puppy sired by that dog or acquiring his frozen semen. The infusion of genes from these healthy Welsh with good temperaments have provided an opportunity to bring in additional positive traits to improve Statesman’s breeding program.
Continuing education is extremely important to a breeder. In-person seminars for dog breeder were popular in the 80s and 90s. Now it is possible to learn online via various webinars. The American Kennel Club offers Canine College courses covering various breed and health concerns.
The Welsh Springer Spaniel Club of America provides learning opportunities at WSSCA national specialties (the annual national get together) and supported entry events (regional get togethers). These events are listed on the Welsh Springer Spaniel Club of America website: www.wssca.com.
This website includes videos that are educational, not just for breeders, but for anyone interested in the breed. One of Susan's favorite videos is "The Working Welshman". To locate this video go to the WSSCA home page:
1) click on Activities
2) click on Education.
3) click on the video "The Working Welshman"
Some history about "The Working Welshman": In 1998, two other Welsh breeders and Susan worked together to produce this educational video about the desirable traits of a Welsh springer spaniel. It has video footage of Welsh in the field plus explanations of why these traits are desirable. There are other valuable educational videos on this WSSCA Education page.
HUNTING: The single best book on training a spaniel to hunt is James Spencer's book "HUP, Training Flushing Spaniels the American Way". No matter at what age you decide to get your spaniel into the field, it is important to get your spaniel in field for free running as well as enough training to ensure that you have control of your dog.
Negative Effects of Early Spay/Neuter: In 2016 and 2017 Statesman had some startling Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) hip results. In a litter of four, two pups had normal OFA hips while two others had OFA moderately dysplastic hips. Then a year later, a litter of five had four OFA normal hip results while one was moderately dysplastic.
OFA RATING SYSTEM:
NORMAL HIPS: excellent (best), good, fair
DYSPLASTIC HIPS: mild, moderate, severe (worst)
Regarding the three dysplastic pups, Susan had heard that early altering (spaying or neutering) of a dog could have negative impacts. She started gathering articles based on information produced from scientific studies in which unaltered dogs were compared to those altered at an early age. The results were astounding. The removal of hormones effects the development not only of joints, but temperament, thyroid, cancers and more. All three of these Statesman dysplastic Welsh springers were either spayed or neutered at an early age as recommended by their veterinarians. One of the three died at age five from lymphoma, a cancer associated with early removal of hormones, and another developed fear and separation anxiety problems.
The Statesman contract now includes a statement that the new owners of a Statesman puppy must keep that puppy intact until two years of age and only after OFA health testing has been completed.
Concerns About Dog Aggression in Welsh Springer Spaniels: Some Welsh springer spaniel owners, including Susan, are concerned with Welsh springer spaniels exhibiting dog aggression or atyical Welsh springer spaniel behaviors. These behaviors have been observed first hand and involve aggression towards the owners own dogs. Scientific studies about canine aggression are being reviewed with the hopes that a genetic marker can be found for this problem. Especially when using chilled or frozen semen and not able to spend time with the potential stud, the owner of a female would benefit from knowing if a stud dog carries the gene for aggression or not.